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Beeb seeks report block

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2007-03-28



The BBC is seeking to suppress releasing what it calls an "internal review" into its coverage of Israel and the Middle East.

Following a request by solicitor Steven Sugar under the Freedom of Information Act to see the report, the BBC refused to provide it saying the Act does not apply to the report.

"The Jewish community was very concerned about the media coverage — particularly the BBC coverage — of what has been described as the Second Intifada," Sugar said last year. "Many people feel that the coverage has been biased against Israel. I take that view myself."

He added: "I think it's in the public interest that his report be made public, and that's why I have taken this action."

The report by Malcolm Balen was written in 2004 and according to the BBC, was "an internal review of programme content, to inform future output" and not for publication.

At the High Court yesterday, the BBC is fighting to keep the report secret despite a ruling last summer by the information tribunal that it should be made available under the Freedom of Information Act.

A spokeswoman for the BBC said it was "asking the High Court to reconsider the Information Tribunal’s decision that Mr Balen’s review was covered by the Freedom of Information Act because it is very important that it obtains clarification from the courts about the extent to which the Act applies".